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Backlash Grows for Ohio D.A. Trying to Indict Woman Who Miscarried

Medical and legal professionals are rejecting the claim by an Ohio district attorney that he lacks the power to drop the case against an Ohio woman charged with "abusing a corpse" after she miscarried at home, the Washington Post reports, calling it a prosecution that has drawn national attention to the ways women can be criminalized for pregnancy outcomes. Last week, Trumbull County Prosecutor Dennis Watkins released a memo saying his office is “duty bound” to follow Ohio law and present the felony abuse of a corpse charge against Brittany Watts, 33, to a grand jury. The jury is expected to decide in coming weeks on whether to indict Watts.

The Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights (OPRR) called those claims of obligation “troubling" in a letter written to Watkins on Friday. “While you may believe you are ‘duty bound’ to proceed, you are, in fact, under no legal obligation to do so. As has been widely publicized and as you well know, but choose to ignore, the principle of prosecutorial discretion is well established in both federal and Ohio law,” the letter reads. OPRR cited a June 2022 letter signed by more than 90 elected prosecutors around the country, including the Cuyahoga County prosecutor and the Columbus city attorney in Ohio, who pledged to use their prosecutorial discretion to pursue serious crimes rather than enforce abortion bans or “criminalize personal medical decisions.”


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